Why are PBA teams no longer taking chances on Ababou, Lastimosa?

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It’s no secret that there are still plenty of talent available in the PBA’s free agent pool right now.

Aside from the crafty playmaker RR Garcia, once highly-touted prospects Dylan Ababou and Carlo Lastimosa both remain unsigned in the ongoing Philippine Cup.

The now free agents last suited up for the Columbian Dyip last season, but was ultimately let go to make room for impressive rookies CJ Perez, JP Calvo, and Jeepy Faundo.

While neither player achieved superstar status during their PBA tenures, both Ababou and Lastimosa appears to still have plenty left in the tank and can still be serviceable for other teams. This, of course, begs the question; how come franchises are no longer taking chances on these talented players?

What happened to Ababou?

After a successful collegiate career that yielded a UAAP Championship and an MVP award—as well as a stint with the original Gilas 1.0—many believed Ababou was destined for PBA superstardom.

Picked 10th overall by the Barako Bull Energy in the 2011 Draft, the 6’3 wing player made an immediate impact and averaged 8.0 points and 3.1 boards in his rookie season.

His career, however, went downhill since that impressive freshman year, as Ababou struggled with a multitude of injuries, punctuated by a devastating ACL tear in 2012 while he was still with Ginebra.

The setback certainly sapped some of Ababou’s natural athleticism, and he found himself struggling to get consistent minutes upon his return. The now 32-year-old forward bounced around from team to team since then, including short-lived stints with TNT, Blackwater, Globalport (now NorthPort), Phoenix, and Columbian.

Ababou failed to get a roster spot with the Batang Pier this offseason, but he remains in the Philippine basketball circuit as part of the Pasig Grindhouse in the Chooks-to-Go PIlipinas 3×3 tourney.

What’s next for Lastimosa?

Unlike Ababou, Carlo Lastimosa did not have much collegiate success during his two-year NCAA tenure with the Saint Benilde Blazers.

The nephew of PBA legend and current NLEX assistant coach Jojo Lastimosa, however, built a reputation as a fearless bucket-getter, earning himself Rookie of the Year Honors in Season 86.

The Barako Bull also picked the trigger-happy guard 20th overall in the 2013 Draft. Although wildly inconsistent most times, Lastimosa proved he could score from almost anywhere in the court—especially when he got hot.

His best year as a pro came in the 2015-16 season, where he averaged 18 points per game and emerged as the Blackwater Elite’s best local.

Despite his scoring prowess, poor shot selection and maturity issues seemed to plague Lastimosa throughout his career, and he was eventually shipped to NLEX  after just one season. His stay with the Road Warriors also ended abruptly, as coach Yeng Guiao admitted that the emergence of Kevin Alas and Keifer Ravena left no room for him in the roster.

In need of a go-to scorer, Columbian pounced on the flamboyant sparkplug but ultimately decided to not renew his contract after only one season. At just 28 years old, Lastimosa can still score with the best of them. But it still remains to be seen if any other PBA team will be willing to take the plunge.

(Images from PBA)

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